THE DEMPSEY INTERVIEW
I had the chance to sit down with The Stro via the AIM recently to discuss several topics with the former WCW star.
Chris Dempsey: You started off your career as Gorgeous George III. How was your great uncle an influence on your career?
The Stro: Well actually, I didn't realize I was even related until later on in life. Ironically, I always had a love for the wrestling business. It wasn't until after a few years in my career that William Regal and Dusty Rhodes told me I favored the original Gorgeous George. Turns out My granddad told me that he was indeed relation and that both of them were old amateur boxing buddies. So it seems by God given destiny that I would decide to pursue wrestling through a legacy like that.
CD: So I guess you can say you had it in your blood and you didn't even know it.
Stro: LOL Yeah, imagine that. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
CD: You worked for Jim Cornette in SMW. Because of his Shoot interview, he became one of my favorite wrestling personalities. What's he like?
Stro: He has an incredible imagination for wrestling. Glad to see that he is putting it to good use to help the young guys in OVW.
CD: A little off track with the questioning, but since you mentioned OVW, what's your initial impression of Brock Lesnar? Is he really gonna be "The Next Big Thing?"
Stro: Brock has all the tools of being one of the greatest phenoms ever. If he doesn't get seriously injured, this athlete can reach big heights. Not many big men can move or are as gifted as Lesnar.
CD: You also worked for Jerry Jarrett in USWA, what was he like?
Stro: Jerry Jarrett had a lot of respect for me due to my amateur background. Working for him in the USWA years ago was a great learning experience in which I got to learn great ring psychology for such veterans as Jerry Lawler, Tommy Rich, Ricky Morton, Tracy Smothers, Moondogs, Bill Dundee, etc. Also had the chance to wrestle with great talent like Brian Christopher, Wolfie D, Jamie Dundee, Brickhouse Brown, Gambler, Doug Gilbert, Scott Hall, Scott Anton, Jaqueline, Mabel, Sid among many others.
CD: How did you start working for WCW?
Stro: I had just completed a tour of AAA in Mexico along with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and both of us were doing some independent bookings in Texas when I got the call to go to Virginia and try out for WCW. I had an excellent tryout match against Chavo Guerrero Jr. Remembering DDP saying that I had improved light years from my tryout a few years back. Of course none of the agents gave me a definite yah or nah until Eric Bischoff walked in and gave his approval. The rest was history.
CD: What was it like working there?
Stro: I had the privilege of working with some of the best talent in the world. We all worked our butts off. Unfortunately, management wanted to go in different directions rather than working together cohesively along with the fact that we had a new boss every two weeks it seemed like. So along with the backstage politics, it was rather difficult. But quite a few of us made the best of what was given to us.
CD: Speaking of backstage politics, we've all heard the rumors about what locker room was like in WCW. Did anyone come off as self-servant and looking out only for themselves?
Stro: Only certain people in management, all the employees from the ring crew and technical people to the wrestlers worked hard. When any of us would try to make headway with the company, we were cut off or held back for favoritism reasons rather than building us to make ourselves and the company we work for look great and prosper. The invisible wall was quite low at times. Remember having a serious conversation with Russo my last couple of days there concerning my frustration. He looked up at me and said, " You were related to Gorgeous George?" DUH! lol. Maybe he should have went out of his little circle and did his homework on me a little more. But geez, three years in WCW? ..lol. This was just an example of how disorganized things were. We had all the potential of being the best company on the planet. But it was management's lack of focus along with not showcasing and building the guys that deserved it is what hurt the company in the long run.
CD: Did you have any objections to changing your name from Gorgeous George?
Stro: Not if it meant the Gorgeous George name being carried on with respect. Like I thought it was going to be when I agreed to lend the name to Lanny Poffo a few years before I came to WCW in turn that I would also get a position with the company, but neither deal fell through and I went on being Gorgeous George III until my arrival. I was Gorgeous George for a year with WCW until I got wind (heard this from sources rather than the office) about Randy Savage giving the name to his girlfriend/valet. Needless to say I was livid! I demanded a meting with Eric Bischoff to straighten it out. Since he was big on musical characters at the time (Demon, Artist, etc) we collaborated to come up with Maestro...a persona which is a spoof off of my Gorgeous George persona, but with a musical twist (my natural piano playing). The original intent of the character was a more "Phantom of the Opera' like persona rather than the Liberace like one that it started out to be. Sting and I were the only ones coming from the rafters as I was coming down on a very elaborate platform playing the piano while Sting came out of the rafters by himself like the Crow with the bat. Had some interesting possible feuds there with a potential one with Sting. Another one with Ric Flair through my feud with David and when I was going crazy in my feud with the Cat, joining the crazy bunch of Crowbar and Daffney. All could have been great, but like a lot of things that had potential with the young guys got cut off by the office.
CD: I'd probably say that my favorite Stro Moment was at SuperBrawl 2000 when you met up with James Brown. Your reaction was priceless and it made me laugh all night long. What was it like meeting The Godfather of Soul?
Stro: It was an esteemed pleasure. Very nice guy. Not even Vince McMahon has brought him in yet. lol
CD: Heh, Vince wouldn't last a second with James Brown!! Will you still get mad if I play some rap in your presence?
Stro: LOL Well actually I am a totally new breed of person now than what I was in WCW. Literally did the incredible Hulk transformation where I was David Banner (Maestro) to now the psychotic Hulk (Stro, Strozilla) lol. Bigger, meaner, more sinister, and much more successful.
CD: I've seen your newer pictures on your website and you look great. A lot different than what I expected.
Stro: Yeah..been training really hard. My new "psycho" Stro persona has had a positive feedback. Imagine Sid, Triple H, and Terry Funk were rolled up into one. lol. Funny how after 13 yrs in the business, all I had to do was to reach down and pull out a part of myself. lol.
CD: Glad to hear everything is well.
Stro: Yeah been traveling all over the world and overseas. Also run a wrestling school in Jacksonville, NC. Been a great place for the guys and students to train.
CD: Most all the ITVRers know of my dislike, and that's a nice way of putting it, for Vince Russo. You mentioned a bit about your conversation with him earlier. What was he like?
Stro: Vince had a creative but unrealistic mind. It is an attribute to have a modern sense of booking, but not so when you put actors as the flagship of a company holding a belt undeservingly that has been held by the best in the business. Just wished he would have given us the young guys more serious modern roles than he did. A few of them seemed quite silly with the "set up to fail" road without any great future potential. A writer that had good intentions in the beginning but gave in to favoritism and politics.
CD: Absolutely. Who are the people you enjoy watching these days?
Stro: I enjoy watching Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Jericho, Triple H, Tajiri, Hurricane Helms, Rob Van Dam, Edge, Val Venis, Bradshaw, Benoit, Lesnar among many others. I look forward to competing with them in the future. What I don't enjoy is the lack of territories to go to. More companies the better.
CD: You look forward to competing with them in the future, huh? Is The Stro trying to say something about his future? :-)
Stro: lol. Never say never bro!
CD: I'd love to see The Stro in a WWF (I refuse to call it WWE) ring.
Stro: LOL I am sure a lot of my fans would...time will tell.
CD: Ok, we'll finish up with a little word association. First up, Eric Bischoff.
Stro: Smart salesman
CD: Hulk Hogan.
Stro: One of the most popular wrestlers in wrestling.
CD: The Rock
Stro: Charisma personified. A media monster right now.
CD: Alicia Webb.
Stro: Very charming lady, lot of fun to work with.
CD: Randy Savage.
Stro: One of the best wrestlers of his era. Until I was born. lol
CD: Heh. Steve Austin
Stro: One of the greatest wrestlers of modern day
CD: Triple H
Stro: The best heel in the business
CD: Ric Flair
Stro: One of the greatest wrestlers of all time
CD: Ok, final one. Vince McMahon.
Stro: The best promoter on the planet right now
CD: Any last words you would like to leave us Stro fans with?
Stro: Thank you all for your support and looking forward to many more
years of great matches. Be sure to check out my website at
http://www.thestro.com for all the latest on me. My wrestling school url